Investment Help

If you are seeking investment help, look at the video here on my services. If you are seeking a different approach to managing your assets, you have landed at the right spot. I am a fee-only advisor registered in the State of Maryland, charge less than half the going rate for investment management, and seek to teach individuals how to manage their own assets using low-cost indexed exchange traded funds. Please call or email me if interested in further details. My website is at If you are new to investing, take a look at the "DIY Investor Newbie" posts here by typing "newbie" in the search box above to the left. These take you through the basics of what you need to know in getting started on doing your own investing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Need Help Allocating 401(k) Investments?

One of the good things about the financial services industry is that there are people who constantly seek opportunities to provide what the market needs.

One service desperately needed is objective advice on allocating 401(k) assets.  In fact, this is an important part of what I do.  Very basically, I look at the total asset picture of clients and manage their assets or recommend asset allocations for them.  I use an approach that stresses tracking markets using low-cost well-diversified ETFs and mutual funds.  My reading of the evidence is that this approach will outperform active managers over the long term after all fees are accounted for.

Many prefer an active approach.  From my perspective, that's ok. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and time will tell if an active approach will add value.

With this being said, there is a free, fund-specific service, Kivalia, that helps investors with asset allocation in their 401(k)s (and 403(b)s and 457s, etc.).  If a fund isn't presently in the more than 225 funds listed, it can easily be listed.

Once in the database, the service produces 3 recommended fund-specific asset allocations illustrating 3 risk tolerances as shown:

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE  On the same page, clicking an icon will enable you to compare the asset allocation of your own portfolio.  Are you more aggressive or more conservative than you think?  Also shown is the performance of the portfolios along with relevant target date funds.

For those who like pie charts, the asset allocation is also shown as follows:
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE Once on the page, you'll also see useful risk and diversification metrics.

To get the full utility of kivalia (the website has the genesis of the word, which you'll find interesting), you have to putter around on the site.  You'll find the ability to be notified of alerts when changes are recommended and that there is a lot of guidance and useful information for those puzzling over the asset allocation decision.  I would suggest that plan administrators take the lead and advertise this service to employees.  They should be pro-active in getting their plans listed and promoting objective advice on investments.

The principals of Kivalia have strong credentials to provide the advice offered.  I would, however, like to see an explanation of how various factors are weighted in arriving at the recommendations.  For example, as readers know, I and many others emphasize costs of funds as an important long-term performance factor.

Disclosure:  I am not affiliated with Kivalia.  This post is for educational purposes only.  Individuals should do their own research or consult with an investment professional before making investment decisions.


  1. I'm glad to see more and more such sites crop up. The more tools an individual investor has, the better!

  2. Hi Robert - glad you found us. Happy to fill you in on how we do what we do, but the short answer is that we bias the advice provided based on our market views for long-term sector performance. Of course those views change over time - for example, over the past year we've been negatively disposed towards international, so those sectors (up until last quarter) were generally underweighted.

    The Kivalia service is built on a 30-factor framework that allows us to express our views accordingly and each asset in our database (over 40,000 currently) maps into this we know where to pick up the small cap international exposure within any list of assets.

    Feel free to ask further questions - we've much more to do on the site, but we think we're headed in the right direction.